Poetry Issue 21


Carissa Pobre

Composition 6 (Framing Study)

Notes to Composition 6

It is a famous story: in 1814, Beethoven dedicated the historic Eroica to Napoleon Bonaparte, until all his ambitions became trite—as in the narrative of men who seek power. Beethoven scratched his name out on the sheet music; in fact the title page had to be replicated when, furious with Bonaparte’s self-pronouncements, he tore the page in half and threw it out. The ink made marks through the pages in the manuscript’s available record.

All too often, the discussion of classical music is associated with authorship, as perhaps because any song or symphony is a moment of absolute rarity, some use the lives of the composers that the listening be further enriched.

To strip the author from the music is not necessarily ahistorical, but the concept of it—to a degree, perspectiveless—can be a rescue. It is possible the plenitude began as a help. Indeed it was Barthes who wrote in 1977, on how “[Beethoven’s] readability feeds on a totality of the artist:” “The truth is perhaps that his music has in it something inaudible.”

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